Tag Archives: sunset

Washington DC photo hints

I grew up near Washington DC, and I’ve made many trips (both business and pleasure) to the area since then.  So I feel somewhat qualified to offer ideas on photo opportunities in our nation’s capital.

US CapitolUS Capitol

My most recent visit was last week.  Lynn and I went to Williamsburg, VA to see Caroline (our niece & god-daughter) graduate from high school.  We decided to go early so we could spend a few days as tourists in downtown DC.

"Uncommon Valor was a common Virtue"“Uncommon Valor was a common Virtue” – I was very happy when I saw how the light was falling as we arrived at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington.  I couldn’t wait to get off the bus!

I probably don’t have to tell you that DC is a rich photo environment.  Monuments, memorials, museums, history, art, architecture, gardens, government, and more are everywhere.  But how do you get interesting photos, ones different from everyone else’s?  Here are some suggestions.

Try using an Infra-Red modified camera.  I really like the way mine renders buildings against foliage and the sky.

Smithsonian CastleSmithsonian Castle – Infrared, Black and White

Take an evening guided tour:  Lynn signed us up with the Bi-Partisan Tour Company for their “Epic Evening Tour” (thanks Lynn!), and we both really enjoyed it.  They took us around to great locations and allowed us to see them in a different light (dusk, blue hour, and night).  I think it added interest to my photos.

If you do take a tour, stay alert in the bus and watch for good vantage points as you ride.  I spotted the Washington Monument behind the Jefferson Memorial and rushed back to make this shot when we parked while everyone else went into the building itself.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial at duskThomas Jefferson Memorial at dusk – with the Washington Monument in the background

It’s almost always crowded.  You can try going in early on a Sunday morning, but if you’re there with everyone else you’ll have to use the people in your photos or find vantage points / ways to minimize them in your photos.  I don’t know how many were at the Wall when we were there – it was elbow to elbow and had to be thousands.

Crowds at the Vietnam Veterans MemorialCrowds at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

"Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope." Martin Luther King, August 28, 1963“Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” Martin Luther King, August 28, 1963.  Ghostly figures move around the base of this long exposure photograph of the Martin Luther King Memorial at blue hour, with the Washington Monument in the background.

If you go at night, be sure to take your tripod.  It can be a pain, but my night tour images wouldn’t be nearly as good if I hadn’t taken mine.

Some other hints:

  • Contact your senators or congress person to arrange a tour of the capital (you’ll need to start months in advance).  If that doesn’t work out, there are commercial ones available that will still get you a guided tour inside.
  • Take wide or ultra-wide angle lenses.  Building interiors don’t fit in the frame with a standard zoom.
  • Before you go, practice making stitched panoramas.  You can use this technique in place of an ultra wide lens.
  • Stay in a hotel as close to the National Mall as you can.  Parking is scarce and expensive.  You’ll be walking or catching rides to get where you want to go.  Wear comfortable shoes and clothes, and use your light weight photo gear.
  • If you’re from Florida, you’ll appreciate the price of admission.  All of the museums and monuments are free.  Museum hours are usually 10am – 5:30pm.  Lines were typically short, but some will require reservations (check first). You can visit monuments 24/7, but rangers are only available 9:30am to 10pm.
  • You might have cooler weather in May or early June.  It’s not as pleasant to walk around later in the summer with the temperature at 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can spend many days (or weeks!) exploring DC.  But if you run out of things there, Photo ops abound in the surrounding area.  Two that I’d highly recommend are the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center just south of Dulles, and Great Falls Park about 30 minutes NW of DC.

I’m collecting Washington DC photos in this album on Flickr, and I’ll add to it as I finish processing images from this trip.  Please check it out!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go to Washington DC and make some photos!

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Wouldn’t it be nice…

Lynn and I were driving back from dinner one day last week.  The sky was beautiful and I liked the way the clouds and color looked so I pulled out my iPhone and made this photo as we went across the 417 bridge over Lake Jesup.

Sunset over Lake Jessie.Sunset over Lake Jesup

This isn’t an earth shattering photo by any means, but there are things about it that are interesting.  I used the Lightroom mobile app on my phone to capture it in RAW mode.  Then I edited it (using the same app) and posted it from the car before we exited 417 a few minutes later.  When I got home, the image (captured version and edits) was already on my desktop computer.  What a frictionless experience.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do the same with our stand alone cameras?

Camera manufacturers are moving in this direction, but their progress seems slow.  You can connect many cameras (e.g. Olympus, Sony, Fuji, etc.) with an app on your phone and then process and post from the phone.  But it’s sometimes clumsy and not as well-integrated.  Phone manufacturers are moving toward higher quality mobile photography at a faster rate.  The 12 megapixel, RAW capture, stabilized images output from the iPhone approach (or exceed) the sensor image quality of some older DSLRs.  And RAW processing / editing on phones is really coming along.

Do you think the mobile capabilities of stand alone cameras will catch up with phones before the image quality of phones is more than good enough?  The question may already be decided.

Hmm – two blog posts in a row with nothing but iPhone photos.  What’s the world coming to?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Around Dixie Lake

We spent a few days last week at Lake Louisa State Park.  We stayed in one of their very nice 2 bedroom cabins with our friends Nancy and Howard T.  The cabins are up high with a fabulous views of Dixie Lake, one of the three main lakes in the park.  The photos in this blog post are all of this lake.

We were eating dinner on  Tuesday evening when this started to develop.  I quickly grabbed my camera, excused myself, and rushed to photograph this superb sunset.

View from the shore of Dixie Lake at duskView from the shore of Dixie Lake at dusk

We also enjoyed riding our bicycles – the hills are a change from the flatlands where we live.  Returning from a ride on Monday, Howard noticed this Sundog – one of the most colorful I’ve seen.

SundogSundog

The cabins are just a short walk from the lake shore. The reflections and reeds made a pretty scene even in the middle of the day.

View from the shore of Dixie LakeView from the shore of Dixie Lake

Across the lake from the cabins, the park has kayaks for rent.  Wednesday morning we started there and paddled all the way ’round.  It was windy and got stronger as we went, but we planned well and travelled clockwise which helped a bunch.  The eastern shore sheltered us from the strongest winds and on the last bit along the western shore, the wind moved us along at a good clip.  I like the many interesting trees and stumps we saw on the way.

Cypress stumpCypress stump

Wildlife was scarce on this visit.  We did see a gopher tortoise on the way in and a few birds including (what I think was) a Common Nighthawk, a hawk or two, ducks going after fish and some others.  I didn’t spot any deer, turkey, or even alligators but I’m sure they’re there.

Lake Louisa is close to Orlando and a wonderful place to relax and get away from it all.  I  highly recommend going if you get the chance!  You can see other posts I’ve written about it here on the blog.  And I’ve collected an album of Lake Louisa photos here on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Shenandoah – Starscapes, Sunsets, Storms, and Falls

Our visit to Shenandoah National Park this year  was extremely enjoyable (mentally not physically!)  relaxing, and cooler than back here in Central Florida (highs there in the 70s).   It was also interesting from a photography perspective and different from last year’s trip.  I did a lot of sunset / night photography and didn’t try very hard to get up early every morning for sunrise.

We were fortunate with seeing conditions on the night we arrived. There were no clouds, and the Milky Way center was above the horizon for about two hours after moon set.  Shenandoah has dark skies and the large cleared meadow near the lodge provides wonderful views all around the compass.  Lynn hadn’t ever really seen the Milky Way before and I’ve never seen it this well.  We were both amazed, and I was also impressed with how much detail my Nikon D800 was able to capture.

Big Meadows Milky Way Big Meadows Milky Way.  Three frame panorama, 24mm lens, manual focus and exposure, ISO 2500, f/1.8, 20 seconds.

Lynn is a big fan of meteor showers, and due to a gravity assist from Jupiter, the Perseid was predicted to be spectacular this year.  We set the alarm for 1am the night it was forecast to peak and went out to watch.  The area around Big Meadows was crowded with over a hundred people watching the show, and each overlook had cars parked with more people observing.  It was a good show.  Here’s one of my photos from that morning.

A Persied Meteor and a cloud in front of a portion of the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy A Perseid Meteor and a cloud in front of part of the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy – From Old Rag View Overlook on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.  24mm lens, manual focus and exposure, ISO 3200, f/1.8, 20 seconds.

I tried sunset photos on most nights.  The sky wasn’t as dramatic as I’ve seen it in the past, but there were many wildflowers in bloom helping to make up for that.

The end of the dayThe end of the day – Looking out over Shenandoah Valley from Skyline Drive. The wildflowers were beautiful when we were there.  Two frame composite, manual masking in Photoshop.

And storms also added interest.  We watched this one develop from the balcony outside our room at the lodge.

Shenandoah Storm #1Shenandoah Storm – A storm built up to the west at sunset. As seen from our balcony at Big Meadows Lodge in Shenandoah National Park.  Multi-frame panorama.

Dark Hollow Falls is one of the most popular places in Shenandoah.  When we drove by on Sunday, the parking area was overflowing with cars.  We waited until the next morning to hike down.  Last year, I didn’t make it to these falls and used one of my  20-year-old photos  to illustrate it.  For some reason, the hike (especially the return up from the falls) is more difficult than it was when I was 20 years younger.  Hmm – I wonder why?  This is from very near the same place, and a horizontal, wider view.  I like this one too.

Dark Hollow Falls Dark Hollow Falls.  14mm equivalent FOV, ISO 100, f/8.0, 1/13 seconds, Olympus hires mode.

We did a bit more hiking this year than last and went on trails we hadn’t tried before.   Rose River Falls and Black Rock Mountain were two new favorites.  Another one we hiked was Pocosin Trail.  It was interesting, although I didn’t like it as much as the others.  Maybe it was because of one sentence in the trail guide:  “Soon the trail flattens.”  It never did!

You can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them and more photos from Shenandoah in this album on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Went for a drive last night

I haven’t been to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in a while (the last time was back in May!) and I miss the place.  So I left around 6pm yesterday and headed over.

Along Gator Creek RoadAlong Gator Creek Road

It was raining at our house in Winter Springs.  Over on the coast, it was dry, but threatening.  The clouds were just awesome – I even spotted some that looked like Mammatus clouds.

Next time I’ll leave a bit earlier – the light was a little dim for bird photography but  I did see a few.    I’m usually there in the morning and they behave differently in the evening.  It was interesting to watch them going home in formation to roost for the night and to spot groups perched in trees and lined up along power lines.

After a turn around Gator Creek Road and then Black Point Wildlife Drive I stopped at Parrish Park to watch the sun set.

The sun setting over the Indian RiverThe sun sets over the Indian River – There were a lot of people enjoying the end of the day at Parrish Park on the Max Brewer Causeway.

It was very busy – the parking lot was full of cars and people were boating, sunbathing, picnicking, fishing, and watching nature’s show.  I was content to make a few photos and head home.

It was a pleasant drive.

You can click on these photos to see larger versions, and I have many more MINWR images in this album on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Frustrating Film Failures

… Well, some film failures and a small favorable film finish.

I’m a sucker for old cameras.  I recently came across two that I ended up buying.

My "newest" cameraA Zorki 6 35mm film camera made in 1962 in the Soviet Union

This first one is a Soviet “Leica” clone I found in an antique store.  I’d heard of them before, but never held one.  It seemed to work, and since I’m a sucker – I bought it.  I got it home, put in a roll of film and tried to take a few photos.  The shutter is inconsistent and started running very slowly.  First failure 😞.   If you’re interested, there’s more info about the Zorki 6 at the Camera-wiki article at this link.

I ran across this next one at a different antique shop.  It’s from Germany in the mid 1950s, and came with a clean Zeiss Sonar 50mm f/1.5 lens.  I like the shutter speed range from 1 second to 1/1250 second (including T and B). The built-in selenium light meter still works too and no batteries are required.  I’m always a bit leery of messing with these old cameras in the store.  So I didn’t actually open it up or try to do too much investigation while there.  It also seemed to be in pretty good shape and I went ahead and bought this one too.  Yes I’m a sucker.

Zeiss Contax IIIA 35mm rangefinder film cameraZeiss Contax IIIa ‘color dial’ 35mm rangefinder film camera

I was able to find a manual and much more info about it online.  You can read the Camerapedia article at this link.  The first problem I ran into was a missing take up spool.  So I tried to use a spool from a 35mm film canister, but the film wouldn’t reliably advance.  Second failure 😞. More research turned up many used Zeiss Contax take up spools for sale, and I bought one on Ebay.  Several days later I loaded up yet another roll of film and started clicking away again.  This time the film advance worked.  I finished the roll and anxiously shifted to Cinderella photography mode (see below*).

And yeah!  Some of the frames were good.  But many had weird light leaks.    I inspected the shutter curtains carefully and saw a gap between them on one side.  When the film is wound, the gap moves across the frame and if the lens cap is off, it partially exposes and ruins the film.  Third failure 😞.

I can’t fix this.  But I bought one more roll and this time I covered the lens each time I wound the film.  And finally I was able to get some decent exposures.  Favorable Finish on the fourth roll!! 😊

Here are three frames from the camera, along with comparison digital images I made at the same time.   I think the camera works pretty well for 60 years old!

MKMK

MK in the back yard (Film is on the left, click for larger versions) –  I really like the way the Zeiss Sonar 50mm f/1.5 lens renders both the background and subject.

Pine tree at sunsetPine tree at sunset

A Pine tree at sunset – (Film is on the left, click for larger versions) – The color rendering is different, I think digital might win this one.  Different film would give different results.

In the gardenIn the garden In the garden (Film is on the top, click for larger versions) – The Caladium leaves were in the sun and the B&W film seems to have handled the highlights better.  The subject isolation in the film version is better here too.

So, can I draw any interesting conclusions from this exercise?

  • Buyer beware – 50 and 60-year-old mechanical devices may not work like new.
  • There are no  new parts for most old cameras and few people know how to work on   them.  Unless you’re willing to go to a lot of trouble / cost, they are what they are when you get them.
  • You can buy a film camera with a warranty (KEH.com does this).  It would be less frustrating.
  • Film holds up pretty well (at least at web resolutions).  I scanned these frames in with a desktop scanner and I could get better quality (at greater cost) with a professional drum scanner.  Anyway, I think current digital cameras beat film hands down for convenience and quality.
  • The “film” look can be pretty nice.  I think the film portrait of MK came out better than the digital version.  This is mostly due to the Sonar lens and 35mm film size.
  • Film cameras can be frustrating, but they are fun to play around with.  And film and old lenses definitely render scenes differently than digital cameras.
  • For me, film is definitely a hobby as opposed to something I would use all the time for my photography.
  • But film is enjoyable to play with. This Contax is usable if I’m careful and I might take it out and load it up from time to time.  It reminds me of the rangefinder that my father gave me as my first camera.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

*Cinderella photography:  “Someday your prints will come”.

Florida Polytechnic University IST building

Florida Polytechnic is the state’s newest public university (classes opened in August of 2014).  It’s in Lakeland along the south side of I-4 where it intersects the Florida Parkway (570).  If you’ve driven by recently, you’ve almost certainly noticed their Innovation, Science and Technology building.

East side view 2IST building at dusk, from the east side

For anyone interested in architectural photography, this place is a special treat.  It’s beautiful during the golden hours, but there are also many interesting viewpoints, perspectives, angles, and details you can find at other times of day.

Outside, 2nd floor, west sideSecond floor exterior, on the west side

After sunset, the interior and exterior lighting and colors add even more drama to the scenes.

Polytech University 1Polytech University 1 (Photo by Tom Matthews, used with permission)

The building and campus layout were designed by Dr. Santiago Calatrava Valls, A Spanish architect, structural engineer, sculptor, and painter.  Besides being beautiful, it’s also very innovative – there are automatic louvers on the roof that adjust to changes in sunlight.

Parking is not difficult as there are paid parking lots available near the building.  You probably won’t be allowed inside the building unless you make prior arrangements.  But for exterior shots, the campus seems very photographer friendly.  You can view their photography guidelines at this link(sorry, no longer available).  If you do go, you might consider combining this photo-op with another one that’s close by – the Airstream Ranch. (Sorry, the Airstream Ranch is no longer there!)

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Death Valley Addendum

Good morning, wonderful readers!  I hope you don’t mind a short post today with a few more photos from Death Valley.  The place made a big impression on me.  I hope to return  sometime in the future.

Desert rain waterDesert rain water – A different view of the post storm water in Death Valley. Some locations had 5 inches of rain on October 18th. The water here collected in small puddles.

Overbury Building ruinsOverbury Building ruins in the Rhyolite Ghost Town near Beatty, Nevada.  Black and White Infrared panorama.

Death Valley SundownDeath Valley Sundown – I like the sun rays and reflections from the wet mud below.

Mosaic Canyon MonochromeMosaic Canyon Monochrome – Rushing water carved these canyon walls, resulting in a variety of textures to explore.

Monochromatic testuresMonochromatic textures – Zabriskie Point in Death Valley is a wonderful place to photograph. The hills vary in color and with the changing light and clouds, it seems there are always new textures, shadows, and compositions to focus on (pun intended). I wanted to emphasize the textures, so I used Lightroom to convert this one to monochrome. For some reason, this was one of the first photos I made there and one of the last that I finished processing.

We’ve added even more photos from our Death Valley expedition in the albums at these links:

Thanks once again for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – go make some photos!

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Casey Key Clouds

I’ve written about Casey Key before.  Lynn and I have been visiting this little island on the Gulf coast of Florida for many years.  If you’d like to read other articles about it, click on the “Casey Key” link under the “Places / Categories” menu over on the right.

When we got home this week and I reviewed the photos I made there on this trip, I was struck by how much the clouds enhance the images.

Stormy ShoreStormy Shore

This strong storm moved through one afternoon and dropped considerable hail and rain on the area.  But we also got to see the awesome cloud front pass over the beach.

This next photo includes some lovely clouds too.

Sunset BeachSunset Beach

And finally, here’s one last photo combining the sky and wispy sunset clouds with a sun or beach totem – not something I see everyday.

Sun totemSun totem

I have more photos from Casey Key as well as larger versions of the ones above in this set on Flickr.

Clear skies are often boring.  Clouds and storms add interest and drama, and enhance almost any photo.  Add some clouds to your compositions.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go find some clouds – and make some photos!

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Lake Louisa State Park – Nov. 1, 2014

Lynn and I went back to Lake Louisa State Park last weekend and spent a very relaxing couple of days.  It was a little chilly – our first Florida “cold” front rolled through while we were there and made us both appreciate the gas fireplace in the cabin.  We didn’t see as much wildlife this time, but I did enjoy making some photos.  Here’s one at sunset from just behind the cabin, looking out over Lake Dixie.  I like the way the field glows in the light coming through the trees.

Grass, trees, lake, and sun
Grass, trees, lake, and sun

The sky was very clear after the cold front, so there were no dramatic clouds to work with.  I think the low morning sun on the trees and the mist on the water  look nice in black and white.

Morning mist - B&W
Morning mist

There weren’t as many flowers blooming as there were last May.  But the few we did see were lovely.  These were along a path just off the road.

Wildflowers
Wildflowers

Lake Louisa is a wonderful, relaxing getaway in Clermont, Florida – very close to Orlando.  If you haven’t been, check it out.  My full writeup on the park is at this link and this set on Flickr has many more photos I made there.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.